NI benefitting from regular run of club games for Peacock-Farrell
SINCE his Northern Ireland senior debut in May 2018 Bailey Peacock-Farrell has played almost as many international as club games - but the gap has grown this season.
On loan from Burnley to League One Sheffield Wednesday, the 25-year-old attributes his first regular run of games since the 2018-19 season with Leeds United to an upturn in his performance level on the international stage:
"It's major in terms of getting regular minutes under your belt. Previous to that I was coming away not as sharp as I could be just due to the fact of not getting 90 minutes every Saturday, or Saturday/ Tuesday.
"It was a key thing I needed to address in the summer just gone. That was the plan me and Burnley set out, for me to go get games, get regular minutes.
"Hopefully you can see that in this campaign, these last few internationals, have been of a good standard; in key moments of those games I've stepped up and that's pretty much down to me getting regular minutes."
BPF started this season by setting a club record of five consecutive clean sheets and had shut-outs in his last two appearances with the Owls, so he's feeling confident ahead of facing Lithuania and Italy in the last two World Cup Group C qualifiers:
"To get that record at the start of the season was really nice. It's important as a keeper to keep clean sheets, but I can't take too much of the credit - it's down to me and my defenders as a team, we're doing it collectively. Whether it's with Sheff Wed or here, we're doing our jobs correctly it allows the lads up top to do what they can and get goals, change the game for us."
He's likely to face two very different tests over the next two matches, but even the 4-1 win in Vilnius would not have seemed so comfortable if not for his penalty save with the score at 2-1.
"Yeah, it could have easily been a different game… That just shows how football can be strange - one moment, a penalty save or whatever, one decision can affect the result so quickly.
"You can walk away thinking 'That was easy' and it can also go the other way. There are key moments in every match that can either go for you or against you. We have got to be aware of the threats that they have - and not under-estimate them, that's for sure.
"You'd probably assume I'll have more to do against Italy than Lithuania, but you have to address these games the same."